The Game

Éomer resisted opening his eyes. Sure that if he did the wonderful dream would vanish to be replaced by some grim reality – like being in the Meduseld dungeon. No, not there. For one thing he felt quite warm. And even though he had suffered the indignity of being incarcerated by his own kinsmen – they had not stripped him naked.

Naked. He could feel air on his flesh. So he couldn't be camped somewhere at the base of the Ephel Duath on his way to the Black Gates. He hadn't removed any of his clothes for the whole time between leaving Minas Tirith after the Pelennor and the final overthrow of the Enemy.

But maybe he was in the camp at Cormallen, and had bathed in the Anduin, climbed up the bank and fallen asleep in the sunshine. Any moment there would be raucous laughter and one of his men would kick him awake. Or more likely, with the stirrings going on in his groin, throw a bucket of cold water over him.

Éomer opened one eye, just a little. Reluctant to exchange the pleasant place he had been for some foreign battlefield. Dark – not the banks of the Anduin, then. A glow somewhere to his right. The crack of a log splitting. He could feel the heat from where he was lying. Perhaps he was in a cave high on the Ered Nimrais sleeping amongst the members of his éored. Resting after hunting wargs and naked because all his clothes had been torn and bloodied.

Intent on confirming his location to himself, he moved slightly. The ground didn't give like that even when covered with bracken. But his slight shifting brought a low murmur from his left and told him someone else slept near. Alert now, he listened to gentle, even breathing. Not any of his Riders – they generally snorted and coughed like their horses. Investigating further, he sniffed. The wonderful fragrance of spring flowers filled his nostrils. His men had never smelt like that.

Éomer allowed a smile to play about his lips, enjoying the game but also desperately willing her to wake. He needed the reassurance of her. The sleeper next to him stirred and he felt rather than saw a head lift slightly away from the pillow.

"You've stolen all the covers again," he whispered into the darkness.

"Oh, I'm sorry." A flurry of movement, and a quilt got pushed across him. A slim arm landed on his chest. "You'll have to cuddle me. I'm afraid I am just not used to the cold yet."

Grinning, and nuzzling into her silky hair, Éomer gathered her up and snuggled her deep into the contours of his body. "My little hothouse flower will be keeping the woodcutters busy this winter."

She muttered something, her fingers momentary squeezing into his warm flesh, already trying to return to sleep. Carefully he tucked the quilt right around her shoulders. His wife. His saviour. If necessary, he would personally fell every tree in the Riddermark to keep her here.

Éomer sighed contently; now, he just had to wait for her to wake up again ….

The end

Author's note – Thanks to Lia. And to reassure Adaneth and Gynnnyd – instead of de-foresting the Riddermark Éomer ordered a beautiful, thick Swansdown quilt from Dol Amroth. LBJ